Enhancements to 9-1-1 For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing

Enhancements to 9-1-1 For The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing
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Chantal Corner

Chantal Corner

Sergeant Chantal Corner is the Media Relations Officer for the Halton Regional Police Department. She grew up in Oakville and graduated from Loyola. She still resides in Oakville.

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The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) is the 9-1-1 Public Service Answering Point for emergency services across the region. 

In partnership with the Halton Hills, Milton, Oakville and Burlington Fire Departments and Halton Regional Paramedic Services (?), progress is being made towards enhancing 9-1-1 service in the region to include a “text with 9-1-1” feature for the deaf and hard of hearing community.  Once properly registered with their wireless service provider, members of that community will be able to connect with 9-1-1 through text messaging.

In today’s 9-1-1 environment, the public can primarily make only emergency voice calls and Teletype calls (by deaf or hearing impaired persons) to the 9-1-1 centre.  Only minimal CALLER data is delivered with these calls, such as the phone number of the device calling, and any address associated to that phone number.  In some cases, the GPS coordinates of a wireless 9-1-1 telephone call can also be determined by the 9-1-1 call centre.

Photo credit: Neon Tommy / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Neon Tommy / Foter / CC BY-SA

Improving access to the deaf and hard of hearing community is part of a much larger national effort to enhance  9-1-1 access to all citizens using a new technology that to enables the public to transmit text, images, video and data to the 9-1-1 center. The decision to start with the hearing- or speech-impaired Canadians was made by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and supported by a CRTC report that identified significant access limitations to 9-1-1 services for this community.

Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1)

NG9-1-1 is a technology that will enhance our 9-1-1 service capability by allowing people to send a variety of “digital” information to emergency services in a real-time environment.  Once implemented, NG9-1-1 will provide the foundation for public emergency communications services to operate in a wireless mobile society.

Once fully implemented, the enhancements may include:
• An expanded ability for the public to make voice, text, or video emergency “calls” from any communication device.
• The ability to receive data from personal safety devices, advanced automatic collision notification systems, medical alert systems, intrusions alarms, surveillance systems and other sensors of various types.
• The ability for individuals to send video clips of a crime in progress, motor vehicle collision, fire, or other public safety hazard to emergency services.
• The ability for 9-1-1 centres to issue emergency alerts to wireless devices in an area via voice or text message, and to highway alert systems.

The implementation of NG9-1-1 requires a carefully coordinated effort with emergency service agencies across the country, phone service providers in each province and various levels of government.  The new infrastructure will need to support national internetworking of 9-1-1 services, as well as transfer of emergency calls to other 9-1-1 centres —including any accompanying data.  The transition plan and end state of NG 9 1 1 has yet to be completely specified.

The Halton Regional Police Service is committed to working with all stakeholders and partners to make NG9-1-1 a reality.

More information on this service can be found on the Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association website at:http://textwith911.ca/.

More information on the CRTC decision can be found at: http://crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2013/2013-22.htm.

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